Shula Sees Signs of Health

Call them the Big Three. Questions about the health status of Brodie Croyle, Kenneth Darby and Tim Castille dominated all of Tide Coach Mike Shula's time Monday on the SEC football coaches' teleconference.

But three players on the mend are much better than what Shula has faced in the past year. Alabama seemingly made it through spring practice with no lasting injuries come August.

"We made it through spring relatively healthy and that's because a few of our guys were already hurt," Shula said.

"We felt good about our spring. We started early and we're going to have a lot of young guys, it seems, again this year, on the field, whether or not it will be guys that were redshirted last season, possibly some true freshmen."

Croyle made the injury-concern list even though he could have gone through much more of spring practice than he did.

"He really looks good right now. He could have gone through all spring drills. I didn't want to take a chance of him getting hit. We didn't need healthy for spring," Shula said.

"I think him being out gave us time to give the young quarterback work, John Parker Wison. He did a nice job over the course of the spring and that will be very valuable to him for this season."

Word that has trickled out on the rehabilitation process of Kenneth Darby has been all positive, and Shula confirmed Darby's good progress Monday.

"From everything I'm hearing he's going to be ready for fall practice," Shula said. "Now whether that will be mid-July, a couple of weeks before that or right up to fall practice, I'm not sure."

"I haven't heard one negative thing yet. He is on a strict rehab course and they don't want him to do too much even if he's feeling good," he said.

Darby, the leader rusher for the Tide in 2004, had surgery on March 2nd for a condition known as sports hernia in Philadelphia, Pa. The recovery time for the type of injury is known to vary widely.

"He's got to stick to his plan and we as coaches, and as a football team, have got to have a plan if he's ready and have a plan if he's not ready," Shula said.

"We've got some young guys coming in here and they're going to have a unique opportunity to play. We've got to get Tim Castille as another guy to carry the ball as he gets himself healthy. We're looking at him as carrying the ball more. That affects a lot of our people on offense but we feel like we've gotten now that we've got some depth and some flexibility in our offense where we can move some guys around personnel wise if somebody's hurt and we can go in a different direction and be competitive and win football games."

Castille tore ligaments in his knee during the Alabama-Tennessee game on October 23, 2004.

"He seems to be doing fine with his rehab," Shula said. "Everything we're hearing so far has been good and hopefully it will stay that way. He had the two ligaments torn last year he's not 100% now.

"They're thinking early June to mid June is when he'll be close to 100%," Shula said.

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